When they have to give a gift, most people would go shopping. Not cooks though — they just whip up a meal. Cooking to please is different from showing off your culinary skills or wowing the crowd. It goes back to the joy of cooking and serving in their most simple form and our reminiscences of the way mother makes it.
Indeed, even the cooking of the most Michelin-starred chefs must, if it is to be truly meaningful, be informed with that hard-to-define ingredient: perhaps it’s caring enough for those who eat your cooking to ensure they are comforted rather than challenged at your table, and that they leave it happy and content. This is why I think nothing of making nutella-and-chapati rolls or whipping up mixed fruit jam milkshakes for my little nieces and nephews.
And that brings me to the recipe for this week. Last week, I had a friend over, returning from a holiday of indulgence and saying he wanted to eat only low-cal. I served this Oriental-style appetiser, culled from several recipes for similar dishes, and arriving at this version. It’s impressive-looking and doesn’t require much work at all. It can be pre-assembled and will cook on its own, while you pour yourself a glass of wine or whisky.
Chicken and rice pearls
You will need
400 gm of fresh minced chicken
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp ginger and green chilli paste
A splash of fish sauce
A splash of seasoning liquid
Salt to taste
Chopped spring onion, or coriander (optional)
1 cup of rice
Soak the rice in two cups of boiling water for half an hour. Drain and allow to dry on a piece of paper. Mix all the other ingredients together with a fork. Form into small, lime-sized balls and roll in the rice. The grains will adhere to the chicken and form a coating. These balls may now be refrigerated in a container lined with foil to prevent sticking.
When you are ready to eat, place the chicken balls on a lightly oiled platter and steam for 12-15 minutes. Do not pressure-cook. Take out of the steamer and serve with a spicy chilli dip.
I also served some steamed prawns alongside; that recipe will follow another time. Meanwhile, eat light. Enjoy!